Author Archive

Mar
15

Some small changes

Posted by on Wednesday, 15 March, 2006

If you notice something different about the layout today, that is because I am currently experimenting with what to put in the right sidebar. I am tired of the one-line movie reviews (it doesn’t generate any value-add to my readers, and I am too lazy to update it in a timely manner).

So for now
First I added the Technorati Favorites widget, displaying the latest three posts from blogs that I have tagged as my favorites on Technorati. After putting in the sidebar though, I was a bit disappointed in the lack of customization. My sidebar bar is 200 pixels wide, and that the Technorati favorites block barely fits in it. Further, the colors and layout of it really doesn’t appeal to me.

Secondly, I made a Flickr badge displaying photos tagged with ‘Japan’. It looks kind of nice, don’t you think?I took away the Flickr badge because it was unreliable for some reason – often not displaying any pictures at all, so the Technorati Widget is back until further notice….

Another idea is to put up my Newsvine Watchlist. I will perhaps tinker a bit with that this coming weekend – it’s a piece of Javascript though, and I don’t know how much it can be customized either.

Then there is this list of things to put in your sidebar over at Listible.com to consider as well.

I’m a bit lost here. I need to put something really cool there but I don’t really know what. I will have to retreat into my Web 2.0-approved home and think really hard. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Mar
14

Frustrations in Japan Part 3 – Business Meetings

Posted by on Tuesday, 14 March, 2006

Meeting Room

There was an article a few weeks ago over at 43 Folders on how to make your business meetings more productive. It was a good read, but I realized how different meeting culture is in Japan visavi the Western world. The tips presented would not have had the desired effect over here, and that is why I will give you some pointers on Japanese business meetings.

1. Instead of looking at a meeting as a forum for discussion of certain topics, look at the meeting as a lecture and presentation of results. There will be limited (if any) discussion during the meeting; most people except to be given a presentation by the meeting organizer that requires little active participation.

2. Don’t expect answers to any difficult (or easy for that matter) questions during the meeting. If you ask questions, you will be met with silence or perhaps answers that merely avoid the topic. Ask your questions before the meeting in private with the people involved; preferably communicate your questions to the relevant people a few days in advance so they can think through their answers and give it to you before the meeting.

3. In relation to (2), it is a good idea to always schedule invidiual pre-meetings before a big meeting – that way you will make sure you get to hear everyone’s opinion (because people rarely speak up in big meetings).

4. Don’t be impatient! If you are forced to ask questions during the meeting, and you are met with silence, this is a signal that the respondent needs time. In Japan, people let others take their time to think through the subject/question thoroughly. Do not try to put words in people’s mouths in order to quickly get an answer.

5. If your meeting is with external people, be sure to treat them with utter respect, especially if your meeting clients/customers. Remember the unwritten rules of seating; the visitors should sit as far away from the door as possible. Note the order they sit in, the most senior person will often sit in the middle, with rank going down as you move further out from the center of the table. Always be careful with any business cards you receive – do not shove them in your back pocket or use them as coasters etc., the business card is an extension of one’s person and thus requires the same respect as the person him/herself.

6. In Japan it is accepted to have cell phones turn on during a meeting – if you receive an important phone call, it is OK for you to excuse yourself and take the call.

7. People will sleep in meetings if they think they are not directly connected to the topics of discussion – if the people you are meeting are sleeping, ignore it; if your own people are sleeping, do not make a scene during the meeting, take it up with the person in question in private after the meeting.

Those were some quick pointers that will help you through Japanese meetings; there are many more things to think about, but that will do for now I think. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me. Perhaps I will post a follow-up in a while too if I get enough new ideas.

Mar
13

Ericsson wins new customer in Japan

Posted by on Monday, 13 March, 2006

Cell phone radio tower
Ericsson selected as primary 3G and HSDPA vendor for eMobile in Japan

Ericsson will be the prime supplier of WCDMA radio networks in the metropolitan areas of Japan (Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka) and a complete nationwide core network. eMobile will roll out the network very quickly and plan to launch commercial services in March 2007. UPDATE: March 2007 is only for Data services; Voice services planned for February 2008.

Finally this was made public since about an hour back. I’ve known about it a while, but for obvious reasons I could not say anything about it earlier. I think this is very good news for Ericsson – picking up one of the two main new players in the 3G market in Japan (the other is Softbank, where nothing is clear yet). It will be interesting to follow what strategy eMobile will have for their cell phone services; will they take the low-cost route, or try to compete on interesting new features? Most people seem to think they will be a traditional vendor, and not do anything more revolutionary than lower prices – but we will see.

UPDATE 3/14:
Some interesting questions that were posed by Japanese media at the press conference; one was, what happened to Lucent? It was announced early 2005 that eMobile were testing Lucent equipment and everyone assumed that they would win the contract, however, now Lucent is nowhere to be seen? In response to this, eMobile said: (translated by me)

First of all, Ericsson is contracted to build an access network in the Osaka, Nagoya, and Tokyo regions. As far as the other regions go, no decision has been taken yet – we are investigating this intensely. We may go with multiple vendors, 2 or 3, or it may end with only one (Ericsson).

Further, regarding the terminals (the actual phones), a question was posed regarding the likelyhood of Sony-Ericsson getting to supply them, now that Ericsson will supply most of the network.
eMobile Chairman and CEO Semmoto said:

We are discussing with domestic and foreign vendors about supply of terminals. We cannot give any names at this moment. Since we have chosen Ericsson to supply the network, it is obvious that Sony-Ericsson would be a good match. That Sony-Ericsson is a candidate for supplying the phones is rather safe to say.

However, President and COO of eMobile Taneno was quick to add that

We have not yet reached that far in our discussions with Sony-Ericsson.

Mar
12

My latest side project!

Posted by on Sunday, 12 March, 2006

I’d like to present to you my latest side project; the new home page of the Scandinavian Cup golf tournament. Those of you who have seen the old one (still active at http://scancup.groth.hm) will see that it’s a dramatic change, and for the better I hope. Here’s a screenshot if you’re too lazy (or have no interest in it):
Screenshot of Scandinavian Cup Homepage

The short, not-so-technical explanation is that I based the new homepage on WordPress 2, making it very easy to update with news and articles. As I am somewhat of an HTML-dork I’d like to toot my own horn and explain the technical goodness of it too, I warn you: if you do not know what “wordpress” or “css” is, then stop reading now!

I warned you, I shall now dive into the technical details of the homepage… First of all, I set out to make the homepage using WordPress as sort of an experiment, to see how well you could utilize WordPress as a CMS – my conclusion is very well! The structure of the site is pretty much non-bloggy, but more classical news-site style. Nowhere will you see posts lined up after one another in chronological order – all the loops have been altered to act as sort of archives or lists of articles. The main page contains two loops showing the two main categories of posts: news and results. I have categorized all posts by type of post (news, results, etc.) and by which tournament it relates to (it’s a biyearly tournament). The backbone of the results pages are pretty much the same as the earlier page, i.e. it imports an .csv file of results and displays it in a table format. Fairly easy to just export the tournament results to .csv and upload.

It took me a few months to create it, mainly because I’m busy at work and lazy, but also because I was struggling with the CSS design. I changed between many different designs throughout the design period, and finally settled on the current one, which is slightly “Web 2.0” styled, although I hate to fall for design trends like that. Basically, I opted for Arial mainly (it’s a clean font, good for news/blogs I think) instead of Trebuchet or Verdana as I had dabbled with before. The color scheme is so-so, I must admit. I wanted it greenish to reflect the golf-theme, but I can’t say I am completely happy with the result. I consider the design of the site as work-in-progress. If anyone has any design ideas, feel free to contact me about it – I am not professional web designer so I find myself lacking that “magical touch” to make a site look perfect.

Mar
09

On Slowly Becoming Japanese

Posted by on Thursday, 9 March, 2006

Azrael over at Outpost Nine (I’m a Japanese School Teacher) ponders over how he is slowly turning Japanese in that he has been gradually desensitized to the pecularities of Japanese society and no longer thinks anything of it. It’s a hilarous read, especially if you have been here a few years yourself. Check out Az’ I Think I’m Becoming Japanese, here are some outtakes:

— You know, Japan has four seasons. How about your country?

— Everything must be explained in thorough detail. Even if I already know it. Even if it’s something that has been the same since the mud dropped from the spear of the Gods and created the island nation of Japan…it still must be explained. Twice. Then, I must give my impressions about it.

— Monday is a public holiday? Woo-hoo! Two-day weekend!

Reading this editorial I realize that maybe I’m turning Japanese myself… You know, I actually DO enjoy some of those shows on TV were celebrities sit around and talk and eat food! I don’t know about the penis grabbing the the p*rn reading on trains though, Az, but that’s just me I guess… 😉